Yakan mainly lives on the island of Basilan in the Southern part of the Philippines, probably the original inhabitants of the island. Their language is Malayo-Polynesian, closely associated with the Sama and the Bajau language. Their houses are built far enough from their neighbors’ houses, and the spaces in between were used to grow edible plants that they can harvest for daily needs and even as medicines. Their house, traditionally has a steep thatched roof, and in a rectangular pile, only has one big room, and the important part of the house is the entrance, the porch. 


Yakan is mainly an agriculturalist, and historically, a supplier of rice to their neighboring tribes, the Tausug, the Sama, and other coastal people of the region. They grow many other kinds of crops, and to help increase the productivity of their land, its health, and nutrients, they practice crop rotation in which planting different crop on the same land for a period of 2 or more years. The Philippines has gained independence in the mid-20th century, many migrants from different parts of the country went to the Yakan areas and formally acquired rights to traditional Yakan lands, which led to serious conflict within the region, the people. This also results in Yakans fleeing their land to other parts of the country, even to Malaysia. 


Aside from observing their duties as Muslims like celebrating Muslim holidays, leading an event to thank the Almighty for every blessing they received. Despite fleeing their home-land, Yakan tribe still brought with them their colorful traditional practices and beautiful ways in making their crafts and arts, and weaving. Yakan men do the plowing and harrowing in agricultural work while, household chores are done by women, but then these two works can be done by both men and women in substitute or they can also work it out together. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ always helps his wives in doing household chores and makes his wives happy, and it’ll be rewarded by the Almighty. However, crafts and weaving are done separately, by men and women, respectively. 


Yakan wedding ceremony is one of the occasions that are well prepared to be able to have a good outcome, a highlight, that is meant to be spent well by the family and friends of the bride and groom, especially the bride and groom for them to cherish and treasure the moment that they vowed together to be with each other for the rest of their lives. Yakan wedding usually lasts for 3 days and is announced by an agong chant. The bride and the groom, both are observing rituals in separate places, where they take a bath and doing preparations individually, both of their faces are being painted with white dots, scribbles, or spots as part of their tradition, the white paint used is a mixture of flour and water, the application is done with the use of bamboo sticks in different sizes. And for their wedding outfits, they are wearing their tribe’s best finery with a piece of clothing called “seputangan” with a complex weaving technique. The bride is covered with what they call “oloskusta budjang” on the night of the wedding. The bride sits on a carriage called “usungan” and is carried by her relatives, the bride is held to her residence where the wedding takes place. 


The groom’s entourage is also a jaw-dropping scene on their wedding day, the groom is accompanied by the imam, the grooms’ relatives, and by brave warriors, the groom is also carried on the shoulders of his male relatives. Later the groom will be handed with a spear and shield by an imam and would perform the symbolic dance of love and war, the “tumahik” dance, which shows the sincerity and bravery of the groom to protect and fight for his family in times of need, failure to do so, the wedding will not take its place. Like the usual dance accompanied by music, the tumahik dance is also performed with a piece of music called “megtambul” played with the “tagunggu” or the gong ensembles which is mostly present during a wedding and other Yakans’ festivities, then Tumahik dancers will take place to continue what the grooms have started. The grooms’ entourage as he approaches the staircase of the brides’ house, the Sa-il or the Yakan song is sung by one of his relatives, only then, they will be welcomed by the brides’ family to enter the house. The wedding will then be solemnized by the imam.      


We all have this one event in our life that we will never forget, maybe, for the Yakan, celebrating a wedding is one event in their life that they will never forget, all the smile, laughter, joy and love poured into this celebration from preparation to solemnization and the unity of two families now become one. Remember, it is not important even if the occasion is extravagant or not, what matters the most is how you cherish that moment and how happy you were in that particular moment. 



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Stockinger, J. (1998). The Yakans of Basilan Island. Retrieved 19 July 2021, from https://www.univie.ac.at/Voelkerkunde/apsis/aufi/yakan/yakan.htm

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Yakan — Parangal Dance Company. Retrieved 19 July 2021, from http://www.parangal.org/yakan

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